Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman With a Big Dream – Laura Caputo-Wickham and Jess Rose

Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman with a Big Dream by Laura Wickham, Jess Rose
Also by this author: Betty Greene: The Girl Who Longed to Fly, Fanny Crosby: The Girl Who Couldn't See But Helped The World To Sing, Helen Roseveare: The Doctor Who Kept Going No Matter What
Series: Do Great Things for God #3
Published by Good Book Company on September 20, 2021
Genres: Children's, Children's Educational
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While in her twenties, Gladys Aylward (1902-1970) felt called to serve God in China and enrolled at missionary school. After failing her exam and being told that she couldn't go, she was eventually given the opportunity by an elderly missionary in China who needed a young woman to help her.
The only problem was that she needed to pay for her journey there. China is a very long way away! So Gladys worked day and night until, eventually, she had enough for a train ticket to China.
But her train stopped in Siberia and wouldn't go any further. Gladys had to cross a dark forest, surrounded by packs of hungry wolves. She met scary people who thought she was a spy. She sneaked onto a ship, and then took another boat, another train, a bus and lastly a donkey!
When she eventually arrived, the villagers were deeply suspicious and threw mud at her! But, with time, Gladys earned the trust of those around her and helped the elderly missionary, Jeannie, to run a guesthouse for tired travelers, where they would read them stories from the Bible every night.
Children will enjoy this beautifully illustrated children's biography, which can be read to young children aged 4-5 and read by children aged 6 plus.

This picture book biography is a wonderful introduction the life of Gladys Aylward, a young woman who became a missionary to China. The simple text from Laura Caputo-Wickham expresses complex realities in basic terms that children can understand, and the illustrations from Jess Rose are colorful and expressive. The pictures help tell the story, bringing key details to life, and the warplanes on one page reminded me just how many of the missionaries I read about as a child were affected by World War II. When I originally read about Aylward, I was in elementary school. Even though I remembered several details from her story, I was fuzzy on the timing, and this book was a great refresher. It also includes a timeline in the back with additional details.

Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman With a Big Dream is a great missionary biography for children, and the story is exciting enough to lend itself to repeated reads, as Aylward faced various obstacles throughout her journey and her attempts to connect with the Chinese people. Aylward’s story is a great example of someone who originally met resistance from the people she wanted to serve, but who gained their trust and built mutually respecting relationships with them. She especially focused on caring for children, and helped save many children’s lives during World War II.

This new installment in the Do Great Things for God series is a great option for Christian families, churches, and Christian schools. The book is very educational, ties in with different world events, and emphasizes Aylward’s faith and humble, long-term service. I greatly enjoyed this book, and would highly recommend it. This can be a family read-aloud or an independent read, and is appropriate for even very young children.